Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Advice for Aspiring Comic Creators and Graphic Novelists

We are often asked how to pursue a career in graphic novels or comics, so we thought we'd write this blog post.

So, what advice can we offer to aspiring comic creators and graphic novelists?

1. There isn't one path to follow. As with many artistic or creative careers, each individual will have his or her own path, that they will have to create along the way.

2. As yet there is no school in Britain that is solely dedicated to learning the trade of graphic novelist or cartoonist, although now there are a few in the US (such as The Center for Cartoon Studies, and SAW) and several in France. Some universities have courses on graphic novels, such as the University of Dundee's MLitt/PGDip Comics Studies. An option could be to go to an art school on an illustration degree. We just learnt as we went along.

3. Being a graphic novelist is brilliant as you get to do what you love, but beware: it's tough! It requires long hours of work, and most likely you will be working freelance and have no job or monthly salary security.That's if you're lucky to get work. Very few creators actually make a living. We do make a living from making comics, but we didn't at first, for quite a few years, and we certainly don't take it for granted.

4. Be dedicated to perfecting your writing and drawing skills.

5. Read and learn as much as you can about the medium. Read comics, graphic novels and books.

6. Here are four books you should read on how to make comics:

Making Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Drawing words and Writing pictures by Matt Madden and Jessica Abel

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner

7. Go to conventions, look at what is out there and how it's made, meet other creators, show your work.

8. We've written a couple of blog posts with a few tips on making comics, the first one focusing on writing, the second one on page layout.

When we deliver comic and graphic novel workshops in schools, libraries and at literary festivals we are always very happy to see the young people and adults being creative and producing exciting work. Sometimes we even receive finished comics in the post and are often impressed by the high standard. Last week we had the pleasure of seeing the winning comic in Alloa Academy's graphic novel competition by the 5th year pupil Euan Grieve.

Winner of the Alloa Academy
graphic novel competition


Hugo said...


Dylan Blake said...

Thank you so much for leading me in the right direction!